Emergency Operation Center a priority for new police station

Jun 17, 2021

The Public Safety Complex Study Committee may end up building a police station, rather than a full complex, but Chair Claire Smith said that regardless, including an Emergency Operation Center is a priority.

An Emergency Operation Center allows collaboration between officials from the emergency management department, police department, both fire districts, the board of health, building inspectors, representatives from utility companies or whoever else might be needed to help direct crews across town.

Smith said that this kind of facility, which allows agencies to coordinate their responses to large-scale emergencies, is particularly important in Wareham due to its vulnerability to hurricanes and floods. 

In addition to the committee’s members from the police department and Wareham Fire, Emergency Management Director Patrick MacDonald and Ryan Earle of Eversource attended the meeting to weigh in on the center’s design.

Earle said that it was unlikely an Eversource employee would be on site in Wareham during an emergency, as the company has its own regionalized emergency operation centers. However, Earle said his company will soon be rolling out a new program for municipalities to use that would be as good as having a rep in the room.

MacDonald said that the center should have plenty of desks, computers, and phones for workers to use. Most programs are based online, so there aren’t many specific hardware needs for each agency.

He said it’s particularly important for the center to have redundant communication systems so workers could get online even in case of a power outage or loss of service from Verizon or Comcast. MacDonald also said that a good radio system is vital, and that it would be good to have back-up access to phones, cable, and internet via satellite.

Wareham Assistant Fire Chief John Kelley said it’s important for the committee to figure out how many people might need to share the space at once. 

MacDonald added that there should be a separate conference room and amenities. 

Kelley said that amenities are important because the center could be in use for anywhere from about a day for a winter storm to months, as was the case during the response to the Lawrence, MA, gas leaks. 

The committee also briefly discussed the possibility of using the site of the old Forestview Nursing Home as a location for the new police station, but abandoned the idea.